Marvel: Ranking the Phase 4 Disney+ Shows

Screenshot of Paul Bettany as Vision and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in ‘WandaVision’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

Ever since the last ‘Hawkeye’ episode aired, which my sister will be reviewing in her next post, Twitter has been highly debating the proper ranking of each of Marvel’s Disney+ shows so far. Some of this conversation is getting kind of heated, so here’s your reminder that this is just my opinion! Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on each Marvel show and there’s no correct ranking of these shows! I have some strong opinions I’ll share here, but so do many others and I don’t think anyone’s strong opinions cancel out anyone else’s. In other words, I’m just going to have fun with this because I’m a huge Marvel fan, and I hope you guys have fun with it too! Also, there will likely be some SPOILERS ahead!

5. ‘What If?’. Unlike a lot of people who have been putting ‘What If?’ last on their list, I did actually watch this show in it’s entirety! It also wasn’t all bad. Seeing Peggy take up the mantle of Captain Britain was cool. T’Challa as Star Lord was definitely one of the best episodes. Also, the last two episodes were overall pretty great. But, let’s be honest, ‘What If?’ wasn’t all that engaging compared to the other Marvel shows. I loved that they gave more development to Black Widow than we ever saw in the MCU and some of the Doctor Strange storylines in the last few episodes genuinely made me interested in what they might do with season two. But a lot of what we saw here was pretty forgettable. Some of the episodes were so dark that you couldn’t really watch it with your family. Some of the episodes never lived up to their full potential (*cough*Killmonger*cough*). And the Doctor Strange episode was rooted in fridging the main female character in the Doctor Strange film. Meanwhile, all of us know that none of the things that happened in any of the episodes will have any impact on the MCU, which explains why so many people didn’t tune in. None of it’s impactful and I probably won’t return to any of the episodes.

4. ‘Loki’. This show inches above ‘What If?’ because of the genuinely excellent first few episodes. The set up of exploring Loki’s psyche was perfect, as was the dynamic between Loki and Mobius. Also, despite the fact that ‘Loki’s not my favorite, I’m not here to bash Sylvie. Sylvie was a well developed and interesting character. But Loki really lost sight of everything it promised. After Sylvie was introduced it felt like she was the main character instead of Loki. Loki’s main goal for the rest of the series was to be close to her. Sylvie actually sought after her goals. This might have been less noticeable if Loki had other goals aside from Sylvie, or even kept his mischievous and scheming nature. But those things disappeared after the first few episodes, making it feel like Loki as a character was put on hold. And yes, I’m in the camp that felt the Sylvie/Loki relationship was creepy and a disappointment given the bisexual reveal. I do think that Loki is the type that would fall in love with himself, but that isn’t what this was. The narrative was trying to prove Sylvie was different from Loki while maintaining the “same person” connection, making it feel to many of us that they were like siblings. Sylvie’s different personality also effectively ruined the writers attempt to connect the Sylvie/Loki relationship to Loki’s self-love instead of actually letting Loki accept himself. The variants of Loki were also disappointing, as all of them aside from Sylvie were forced into only one episode and all of them scoffed at the idea of a Lady Loki despite the sheer amount of Loki variants. The best part of this series was the relationship between Mobius and Loki, which we didn’t have for the last few episodes. And on top of all of that, the last episode, while it did introduce a cool villain, was nothing more than a giant monologue. I love Loki as a character, but this was a major disappointment.

3. ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’. This show was a whole mix of really great and really bad things. The premise of this series as a whole was kind of frustrating for Sam Wilson’s character. As someone who was close to Steve, and as someone who has obviously been mistreated by the government, it really didn’t make sense that he’d hand the shield over to the government. But Sam’s reasoning for not taking up the mantle of Captain America at first made a lot of sense, and his journey into finding what the shield means to him was exactly what I wanted out of the show. It was also really nice to see a Marvel series address modern-day racism, which was even more potent when it pointed out that even an Avenger like Sam could be discriminated against. Bucky was also incredibly well done. Seeing him deal with the aftermath of being the Winter Soldier was realistically heartbreaking. And his sense of humor made me fall in love with him right away. “Looking strong, John!” is one of the best lines we got in any of the Disney+ shows. The relationship between Bucky and Sam was great too. The entire episode dedicated to the two working on the ship and helping out Sam’s sister was heartwarming. Surprisingly, even Zemo was a highlight of the show. He was made to be an interesting character with interesting motivations. But the series suffered from serious pacing issues. I also hated the somewhat redemption they attempted for John Walker towards the end of the series after he literally beheaded someone with the shield. Also, who were the villains in this again? And can we all forget that Sharon Carter was in this at all, please?

2. ‘Hawkeye’. This series was low stakes, but it was even better for it. Every episode was fun and the genuine relationships developing between characters was endearing without making me wonder if any of them were going to die by the end of the series. Kate Bishop is such a relatable and likable protagonist. I can’t wait to see more of her. And though I’ve had mixed feelings about Clint Barton in the past, this series made me love him. It made him interesting and complex, but also caring and down to earth. He and Kate are one of the best Marvel duos I’ve seen on screen. From the chase scene where Clint loses his hearing aid, to the scene where Kate helps Clint talk to his son, to the impromptu ugly sweater and Christmas movie night, this show made me love and believe their close friendship. These two weren’t the only characters I walked away from the show absolutely loving. Yelena Belova stole every scene she was in. She was hilarious and pleasantly friendly around Kate. Her final fight with Clint was one of the best scenes in the entire show, giving all of us a better idea of who Natasha was than the MCU generally did and allowing both Yelena and Clint closure. The introduction of Echo was also majorly impressive and made me excited for her new show. I love the actual Indigenous representation we’re getting with this character on top of the great deaf representation we got in this show. I expect we’ll also be seeing more of Kingpin in the Echo spinoff, who definitely made an impression in this series. Jack was surprisingly fun in the last episode as well. This whole series was entertaining and wholesome. I can see myself rewatching it many times in the future.

1. ‘WandaVision’. Nothing can beat how incredible the writing, directing, acting, and design of this show was. It still blows me away. Wanda was already becoming one of my favorite MCU characters before this series was released, but the complexities they gave her in this show solidified her as my favorite MCU character. Wanda, of course, created WestView, but the way they explored the relatable topic of grief through her made her both understandable and easy to root for. Plus, they finally revealed her to be the Scarlet Witch, giving us some new powers to speculate over and a new costume that I adore. I loved Vision even more after this series as well. His genuine kindness and quiet intelligence is so amazing to watch, especially as we get to follow him discovering the mysteries of WestView. The White Vision storyline was such an excellent way to end this series with a promise of a future for the character. We also were introduced to Monica Rambeau, a powerful character whose connection to Wanda often made her the hero of the story and who definitely has one of the best superhero transformations of all time. Even the supporting cast of this show was great. Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis both proved themselves to be hilarious and badass, and I can’t wait to see more of them. Agatha Harkness certainly could have used more time, but she was still so much fun to watch. Really my only complaint with this series is Ralph Bohner. And what damage can that reveal really do when so much of the rest of the show was so amazing? Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen should be commended for their comedic acting as well as their easy adaption into each time period. And the effects, music, and genuine love for old television seen throughout each episode of ‘WandaVision’ can’t be ignored. This is one of my favorite MCU projects of all time.

That’s my ranking! As of now I think the only shows I’ll be returning to frequently are ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘WandaVision’, but there are pros and cons to each series! Either way, Marvel fans have been absolutely spoiled with the Disney+ shows so far. I’m really wary of the Multiverse, but the Disney+ shows have given me hope that rather than the overstuffed storylines I’m skeptical of in the MCU right now, we’ll have a medium that will stick with mostly personal stories. These personal stories have made me feel closer to the characters in the MCU than I ever felt before. I can’t wait to see which characters we get to explore next!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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